-by Janice & Craig (Brittany’s parents)
We stopped in Arrowtown (Historic Chinese mining town) to check out the shops and historic monuments and we also indulged in some delicious bakery coffee cake. Always found excellent coffee down under; flat whites (steamed milk and expresso) were a favorite! Many trees were down from the violent storm the prior evening; however, lots of touristy shops and cafes were available. At the edge of what was left of the settlement, we found a cute shop with nice outdoor seating. The owner was obviously an artist, selling her work as well as serving coffee and home baked goodies and offering gold panning for children. The settlement was interesting. We learned the Chinese developed strong fellowship and bonds to endure the oppression and racial discrimination inflicted by the native inhabitants.
Driving on to Lake Wanaka, we rented bicycles and enjoyed a lovely 10 mile bike ride alongside the lake-(HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) $30 for 4 hours. GORGEOUS and sometimes rugged trail, all along the waterfront and often through the woods. We didn’t have a mount for the GoPro; however, peeking out of a jacket pocket, it still captured great footage.
At our turnaround point, we passed over a bridge to get into a nearby town, Albert Town, and had a delicious snack on a sun-filled porch before heading back. It proved to be a unforgettable and beautiful bike ride, although quite rigorous, especially the “extra credit” ride, after we returned to town, uphill to the vineyard and winery. It was an intense, steep, switchback trail up to a bluff with a vista of the mountains, lake and village below; an idyllic place we were lucky to see – kudos to Travelbeet again!
At the top of the bluff, we celebrated the journey with some free wine tasting and a quick peek at the facility, which was mainly used for parties, weddings, etc. The venue was first class and the expansive windows provided spectacular elevated views of the vineyards and the lake. When the winds picked up and the air turned chilly, we headed back to turn in the bikes. The rental shop “Green Toad Bike Hire” also had a basket of fresh eggs for sale, “harvested” that morning by the owner’s enterprising children.
While recommended, we passed on jumping out of a plane in Wanaka; we were more than satisfied with our ground adventures. However, if we were ever to attempt, this would have been the place to do so, breathtakingly scenic!
Back in Queenstown, the wi-fi was spotty, but the occasional bar that offered wi-fi was appreciated-usually time had to be purchased. Being the first time we celebrated Thanksgiving apart from the family, we were pleased to be able to share moments with each of our children: Trevor’s pics of turkey dinner in Chicago with Kasia’s family (with emergency power cleverly provided by a car battery); Carly standing on a frozen lake in Bimidgi, MN while visiting Clare; and Brittany (with Peter- you can see their video on this site) in Bora Bora thanks to a Face-time connection!